Chinese scientists at Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics have shown that graphene, a material which is a sheet of carbon exactly one atom thick, does not allow the growth of bacteria on its surface. This is in contrast to mammalian cells which seem to do just fine when in contact with the graphene.
From the article abstract in ACS NANO:
In this work, we report the antibacterial activity of two water-dispersible graphene derivatives, graphene oxide (GO) and reduced graphene oxide (rGO) nanosheets. Such graphene-based nanomaterials can effectively inhibit the growth of E. coli bacteria while showing minimal cytotoxicity. We have also demonstrated that macroscopic freestanding GO and rGO paper can be conveniently fabricated from their suspension via simple vacuum filtration. Given the superior antibacterial effect of GO and the fact that GO can be mass-produced and easily processed to make freestanding and flexible paper with low cost, we expect this new carbon nanomaterial may find important environmental and clinical applications.
Abstract in ACS NANO: Graphene-Based Antibacterial Paper
Press statement by the American Chemical Society: New antibacterial material for bandages, food packaging, shoes …